A quiet time when the world is loud

A recent visit to Cuckmere Haven, included for an essence of beauty in all the panic.

Two weeks ago I was working towards an intensive workshop taking place before Easter, for the creation of a collaborative audio guide in Brunswick Square. This workshop has been re-evaluated and moulded into something longer and more free-flowing, allowing participants to listen and shape their work over a longer period of time. But as with all community works right now, when this will take place is not clear. I have anticipated the end of May and beginning of June, with a showcase on the 18th July. Let us hope for the best, I still feel as if things will pass and I can put this event on as planned. After the workshop, it is my intention that this then becomes a regular monthly meet up for any listeners who might want to be part of a local/distant sound community working specifically in locative outdoor sound works, to the end of my PhD and hopefully beyond.

I am feeling displaced right now, but I know many others are experiencing this too. I write this from my emptying office, in a large building where lights are predominantly off, and the only life seems to be the few optimistic PhD students who are still gathering their thoughts together with the contents of their lockers, ready to bring home by the end of tomorrow.

Little snails clinging to the rocks at the mouth of the river.

There isn’t a sense of being lost here, or a sense of nothingness. It isn’t that kind of displacement. It’s a different kind of space, where you know there are a few places you wish you were, and the tension is in making that choice, and what the outcome could be. When something is highly contagious, isolation isn’t as simple to fulfil for some as it may be for others. Where do you isolate? And are you isolating alone? Is it isolation when you go back to your families, wherever they may be, and stay together for company, and hopefully resilience? And when does it end, that you may reunite with those people you wish you had gone to now, when the mobility was still there?

Right now I am staying with my boyfriend in his 5 bedroom student house, and I have been coming to my desk during the day as a place of quiet amongst the loud. The truth is, I must return home to my little flat soon, as there will be nowhere for me to work. But there are different factors stopping me, as when I do, I may have to stay there; it might become my place of isolation. My family want to have me in Milton Keynes as there is space – and the ponies are there, I could help with them while I am healthy. That has its issues also, what if I make my parents unwell from exposure to Brighton? So currently I wait here in limbo, because I’m sure like many hope, no decision gives space for the right decision.

Looking for stones to skip.

Research students are pushing for extensions, for their health to be taken first, both mental and physical. But the ability is in keeping the cogs moving, and your environment ticking over slowly, even if only half of your heart is in it. The best art comes from turmoil and uncertainty, and I will keep that in the forefront of my mind as I navigate the next few days/weeks. This isn’t the first time I’ve been displaced, and it won’t be the last.

So I will find the highlights of isolation; as the corridors lessen, and it becomes clear that there is only one door left to walk through, and one set of walls to be within. I’ll hold it as an opportunity to be with my mind; the thing that got me this far, and created everything that is fuelling my research now. I will look at this moment as a quiet time when the world is loud. And maybe great work will come. Either way, I will reunite with my piano again.

A cold sunset with friends.

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